Monday, June 28, 2010

NFL conduct policy for everyone, not just players

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, addressed all of the newly drafted players yesterday at the first day of the annual rookie symposium.  Among other things, he highlighted the leagues personal conduct policy.  In general, the policy prohibits NFL players, NFL employees, NFL Club employees and prospective players and employees from “engaging in violent and/or criminal activity” because it is detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.  The goal is to ensure that everyone affiliated with the NFL represents it positively or deal with the consequences.  Goodell calls this program to maintain a positive image, “protecting the shield” referring to the league’s logo.  He is serious about this and has not been reluctant to discipline the NFL’s biggest stars.  Just ask Steeler’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

Over the weekend, Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, and Thomas (Tom) Lewand, Detroit Lions President both made their way on Goodell’s list for potential disciplinary action for breaking the personal conduct policy. 

Michael Vick, still on probation as a result of his conviction for dog fighting, is being investigated by the NFL for a shooting that happened at the location of his birthday party last Thursday in Virginia Beach.  It has been reported that Vick was no longer at the club when Quanis Phillips was shot early Friday morning.  The Virginia Beach Police said that Vick is not “a person of interest,” but one of the conditions of his probation prohibits him from associating with Phillips.  I think that the league’s investigation will look to determine if Vick played a role in the shooting, if he broke the conditions of his probation by being in an environment with Phillips and if he used good judgment having a party at a club.  Vick just returned to the league last year.  Even if he did not have anything to do with the shooting, just hosting the party could demonstrate that he has not learned his lesson and still associates with negative people and makes poor decisions off the field.    

Tom Lewand was arrested in Denton Township, Michigan last Friday for “suspicion” of DUI.  I am not sure what “suspicion” means but the police report notes that Lewand failed the sobriety test and his blood-alcohol level was .21 thirty minutes after police pulled him over.  (He refused to take the test when first stopped.)  Since the incident, the NFL has stated that the personal conduct policy does apply to all NFL personnel and they are gathering the facts on Lewand’s arrest.  Regardless of the league’s probe, the fact that Lewand’s blood-alcohol level was two times Michigan’s legal limit of .08, demonstrates that he was operating a vehicle illegally.

After his address to rookies yesterday evening, Goodell reminded reporters that the conduct policy “isn't a player policy, it's a personal conduct policy."  Goodell has received some criticism for handling poor behavior from players tougher than coaches, personnel and owners.  Many argue that owners and team personnel are not in the public like players.  Not true.  They may not have the notoriety of a star player, but they are the face of the organization.  They need to be held accountable for their actions because they set the example for their staff and the players.  If Goodell is truly going to “protect the shield” he will have to act on what he says and discipline everybody in the NFL for not complying with the policy, not just players.  


Heels Helmets

Monday, June 21, 2010

Favre Rules Are For Favre Only

Minnesota’s star running back, Adrian Peterson, missed the team’s mandatory minicamp because he attended “Adrian Peterson Day” in his hometown, Palestine, Texas.  Head Coach Brad Childress was not pleased about it and publicly questioned his biggest offensive weapon’s decision to miss the entire minicamp.   I am with the coach on this one.

I discussed voluntary OTAs this spring.  You know how I feel.  If it’s voluntary, players should not be ridiculed publicly for not attending.  Mandatory minicamps are different.  It is part of a player’s professional responsibilities.  If it is not life or death, a player should be there and on time.  I’m not saying that a player should miss an event in his honor, but something tells me that Peterson knew the date of this event in time to reschedule.  Furthermore, it was one day.  Why did he miss the entire weekend of camp?

I understand some fans will point to Brett Favre and say that Minnesota gives him a pass all summer long and disciplines Peterson for missing one camp.  When called out about this point, Childress answered, “I don't think Adrian is batting around retirement in his mind. It's a special set of circumstances. ... Is everything equal? Obviously it's not. That's just the way it is. It's a matter of fact. I think everyone understands that from our side."

I think we would all like a world where everything is equal, but that is not our reality.  As one of the senior leaders at my first job told me, “Rank has its privileges.” Brett Favre definitely has rank.  Peterson is good.  He was Offensive Rookie of the Year and has been to the Pro Bowl every year of his three-year career.  However, this does not compare to the 19-year veteran’s stats, contributions, accomplishments or leadership.  

I appreciate Childress’ candor about the privileges that Brett has.  Right or wrong, at least everyone knows what the rules are and has clear expectations.  Note to the Vikings: Don’t try to use “Favre Rules” if you are not Favre.

Heels Helmets

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nebraska Is In A Real Football Conference Now, No Whining Allowed

It’s official.  Effective July 1, 2011 The University of Nebraska – Lincoln will be in the Big 10 Conference.  I welcome the Cornhuskers to the oldest Division I-A Football Conference and I am ready to settle a debate.

It goes back to 1997.  Back then the NCAA Division I-A Football Champion was decided by the AP (Associated Press) and the ESPN/USA Today Polls or, as we called them, the writers and the coaches polls.  Until that year, I thought that the coaches got it right.  That year, they proved that they didn’t.

The University of Michigan had an unblemished record.  They replaced Nebraska as the #1 team after beating #3 Penn State the weekend that Nebraska almost lost to a Missouri team that was not ranked in the top 25.  (They saved the game in overtime with a lucky catch.)  The Wolverines headed into the bowl season undefeated and ranked #1 in both polls.  Head Coach Lloyd Carr was Coach of the Year and Charles Woodson, starting cornerback, won the Heisman.  (First defensive player to do so.)  The Wolverines only needed to win the Rose Bowl to become National Champions.  So, you would think.

The Wolverines went to Pasadena and beat #8 Washington State, 21 – 16 in the 84th Rose Bowl.  Nebraska won the Orange Bowl in Miami by beating #3 Tennessee, 42 – 17.  After the bowl games, the writers kept Michigan at #1, but the coaches moved Nebraska to the number one spot on their poll.  This wasn’t about the action on the gridiron.  This was about the coaches recognizing the end of a career of their colleague and one of the best coaches, Nebraska Head Coach, Tom Osborne.  It was his retirement gift.

The coaches got it wrong.  They’ll say Nebraska beat the #3 team “convincingly.”  That is, as Bo Schembechler would say, hogwash!

Here are the top reasons why Michigan should have been the consensus 1997 Football Champions.
1.    Tougher schedule – 11 straight games without a bye week.
2.   Tougher opponents – Played 6 teams ranked in the top 25. (Nebraska played 3.)
3.   Beat the #3 team (Penn State) 38 – 4 during the regular season on the road and followed it up with victories against #23 Wisconsin and #4 Ohio State.
4.   They handled business on the field and left it there.  Nebraska players went whining to the media, “Don't give it to Michigan.  Our coach deserves this.”  (Champions don’t whine!)
5.   Nebraska should not have been #2 and undefeated.  The refs got the call wrong in the Missouri game.  The Tigers clearly caught the ball.

After the bowl games, everyone was debating who would have won if Michigan and Nebraska had played each other that season.  In my mind, there is no doubt that Michigan would have killed Nebraska.  The teams are different, but I am looking forward to the Cornhuskers joining the conference, visiting the Big House and experiencing a battle with the most winningest football program.

Nebraska, Welcome to a real football conference where a rival doesn’t mean beating up on someone for 25 years!  And NO WHINING ALLOWED!

Heels Helmets

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2011 Super Bowl Champs...

The New York Jets.

OK, I normally don’t do this.  Actually until last week, it was totally against my rules.  I think it is crazy to start talking about the Super Bowl in the spring.  Training camp hasn’t started, rosters are not confirmed; I mean T.O. still does not have a home this year.  So it doesn’t make any sense at all!  However, I was called out and in my excitement went against my own rules.

I entered Oprah’s contest to have a show on her network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).  The show idea I presented was a sports show (what else?) for women.  Similar to the way we enlighten all of you on what’s going on in football, the program would cover sports topics and educate women on all sports.  For my video audition, I illustrated a few of the segments that would take place when we discuss football.  One is “Hail Mary.”  During this portion of the show, “my friend,” Mary, will ask for an explanation of the game or game prediction.  So, my real friend producing my audition acting as “Mary” asked, “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl next year?”  Instead of using the time to explain my rule and share the top teams that I think will be contenders as of that day, I made a prediction. 

The New York Jets.

The Jets did have a very good season last year.   They made it all the way to the AFC Championship with a rookie quarterback.  They added a veteran running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, and a top wide receiver, Santonio Holmes (he’s a Buckeye, but I give credit when it is due) to their roster.  I am excited about what they will accomplish this fall, but it is June!  I am not supposed to discuss Super Bowl predictions before training camp, confirmed rosters and the dreadful word… injuries.  Yet, I did.  So, I am going for the Jets.

Let’s Go J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets!

See everything that I had to say about the New York Jets winning it all next year and while you are there vote for me and tell everyone you know to do the same thing!

Heels Helmets

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Football’s Real Warriors And Heroes

Yesterday we celebrated all of the men and women who have served or are serving in the U.S. Military.  These people sacrifice and risk their lives for our country.  In sports, we describe players as courageous and heroic.  We use phrases such as “going to battle” and “winning the war” to portray the action of the game.  The great people that we honored yesterday actually go to battle.  I did some research to find professional football players that served in our military.  A lot of controversy surrounding NFL players avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War; however, there were players who sacrificed their careers on the gridiron for our nation.  Here is a look at the men who marched on the football field and the battlefield. 

Cpl. Mike Basca (HB, Philadelphia, 1941) – Killed in France in 1944

Lt. Charlie Behan (E, Detroit, 1942) – Killed on Okinawa in 1945

Maj. Keith Birlem (E, Cardinals-Washington, 1939) – Killed trying to land combat damaged bomber in England in 1943

Lt. Al Blozis (T, Giants, 1942-1944) – Killed in France, 1945

Lt. Young Bussey (QB, Bears, 1940-1941) – Killed in Philippines landing assault in 1944

Lt. Jack Chevigny (Coach, Cardinals, 1932) – Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945

Capt. Ed Doyle (E, Frankford-Pottsville, 1924-1925) – Killed during North Africa invasion in 1942

Lt. Col. Grassy Hinton (B, Staten Island, 1932) – Killed in plane crash in East Indies in 1944

Capt. Smiley Johnson (G, Green Bay, 1940-1941) – Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945

Lt. Eddie Kahn (G, Boston/Washington, 1935-1937) – Died from wounds suffered during Leyte invasion in 1945

Sgt. Alex Ketzko (T, Detroit, 1943) – Killed in France in 1944

Capt. Lee Kizzire (FB, Detroit, 1937) – Shot down near New Guinea in 1943

Lt. Jack Lummus (E, Giants, 1941) – Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945

Bob Mackert (T, Rochester Jeffersons, 1925)

 Frank Maher (B, Pittsburgh-Cleveland Rams, 1941)

 Pvt. Jim Mooney (E-G-FB, Newark-Brooklyn-Cincinnati-St. Louis-Cardinals, 1930-1937) – Killed by sniper in France in 1944

Chief Spec. Gus Sonnenberg (B, Buffalo-Columbus-Detroit-Providence, 1923-1928, 1930) – Died of illness at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1944

Lt. Len Supulski (E, Philadelphia, 1942) – Killed in plane crash in Nebraska in 1944

Lt. Don Wemple (E, Brooklyn, 1941) – Killed in plane crash in India in 1944

Lt. Chet Wetterlund (HB, Cardinals-Detroit, 1942) – Killed in plane crash off New Jersey coast in 1944

Capt. Waddy Young (E, Brooklyn, 1939-1940) – Killed in plane crash following first B-29 raid on Tokyo in 1945

Lt. Bob Kalsu (T, Buffalo Bills, 1968.  Bills’ Rookie of the Year) – Killed under fire near the A Shau Valley in 1970.

Lt. Don Steinbrunner (OT, Cleveland Browns, 1953) – Killed when plane was shot down in Kontum, South Vietnam in 1970.

Spec. Patrick “Pat” Tillman (S, Arizona Cardinals, 1998-2001) – Army Ranger in the 75th Regiment.  Killed during friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

We salute all of these men for their sacrifice and valiant efforts in serving our country.  They truly are heroes.

Heels &  Helmets